Road testers Meet our type 1 cy­cling champs

Plung­ing head­long through bar­ri­ers is all in a day’s work for Chris Wil­liams and James Glasspool, who take type 1 di­a­betes all the way to the fin­ish line

Diabetic Living - - Contents -

Have you ever thought (or been told) that a type 1 di­ag­no­sis meant that you couldn’t chase down your dreams? The mem­bers of Team Novo Nordisk are here to change your mind – and ev­ery­one else’s.

Every mem­ber of Team Novo Nordisk is a pro­fes­sional cy­clist, rac­ing on the gru­elling in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit. Every mem­ber of Team Novo Nordisk also has type 1 di­a­betes. Their goal? Aside from fame, glory and the chance to rock some very fetch­ing ly­cra one­sies, the team aims to in­spire and em­power peo­ple liv­ing with type 1 to pur­sue their own pas­sion – re­gard­less of di­a­betes.

Chris Wil­liams, 34, from Bris­bane, and James Glasspool, 25, from Ade­laide, are two proud rid­ers on the team. Here, they share their very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences of di­a­betes, how they turned pro and what they hope to im­part to oth­ers.

When were you di­ag­nosed with di­a­betes?


I was ac­tu­ally di­ag­nosed in the mid­dle of an am­a­teur bike race at the age of 27. I col­lapsed at the end of a stage and was di­ag­nosed with type 1 that after­noon. I was told en­durance sport and cy­cling was a very dif­fi­cult com­bi­na­tion and I would need to stop for a while. I was dev­as­tated and in my mind, I’d al­ready sold my bike. For­tu­nately, I had some friends who weren’t go­ing to let me mope, and af­ter work­ing on a plan with my doc­tors, I was back on my bike within two days.


I was di­ag­nosed in

2003. The doc­tor told me, “I’m sorry to in­form you, but you have type 1 di­a­betes,” to which I replied, “Cool. What’s that?” While two of my grand­par­ents had type 2, I knew noth­ing about type 1. Af­ter hav­ing things ex­plained to me, the di­ag­no­sis be­came more shock­ing. My fam­ily and friends were all sup­port­ive, though, which helped get me back to my nor­mal rou­tine quickly.

How did you be­come a pro rider?


As a kid, all I wanted was to be a pro­fes­sional ath­lete.

One day I would dream of play­ing in the AFL, and then the next of get­ting a baggy green. When I started rid­ing, I knew if I worked ex­tremely hard, then my dreams of go­ing pro might come to fruition. In 2014, I was of­fered a spot on Team Novo Nordisk’s de­vel­op­ment team. I felt I couldn’t pass up the offer.


I al­ways loved the out­doors when I was grow­ing up. As I got older, I started par­tic­i­pat­ing in am­a­teur bike races, while work­ing full-time as a teacher. By 2010, I was of­fered a guest spot on an­other team for a race in China. I per­formed well enough to earn a con­tract for the fol­low­ing year and I jumped at the op­por­tu­nity be­cause you only live once! Team

Novo Nordisk got in con­tact with me in 2012 and I’ve been with them ever since.

What do you like most about be­ing part of the team?


We all have some­thing ex­tra in com­mon with each other from liv­ing with type 1 di­a­betes. It makes the team very dif­fer­ent from any other pro­fes­sional sports teams, and I think it’s very cool to be do­ing some­thing that has never been done be­fore.


I al­ways love meet­ing young fans at races who share their sto­ries of di­a­betes with us and tell us how the team is an in­spi­ra­tion to them. It gives us an­other rea­son to train hard and ride fast!

What ad­vice do you have for young­sters with type 1 who want to pur­sue an ath­letic ca­reer?


When young peo­ple are di­ag­nosed with di­a­betes, there can be a fo­cus on the neg­a­tives. But di­a­betes does not have to stop you from chas­ing your dreams. My ad­vice would be to work with your med­i­cal team on your di­a­betes man­age­ment plan and then go live the life you want. Yes, it can be hard at times, but any­thing may be pos­si­ble if you re­ally want it.


The bet­ter you can man­age your di­a­betes, the bet­ter your per­for­mance can be. Every ath­lete spends a lot of time and en­ergy mak­ing sure all the lit­tle de­tails are in or­der when it comes to com­pet­ing. The same goes for us – di­a­betes just adds an­other layer for us to man­age.

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